Berg River Canoe Marathon Media Release

 No: Berg2123

4 Aug 2021

    Embargo : None

Written By : Dave Macleod


Records beckon at 60th Berg


Paarl Ė The 60th edition of the iconic Berg River Canoe Marathon gets under way in Paarl on Thursday morning with a field brimming with enthusiasts keen to test themselves over the four days and 240 kilometres to the West Coast fishing town of Velddrif.

As the race celebrates its sixth decade of existence, it continues to evolve and adapt, embracing itís traditions while conforming to the strict Covid-10 protocols negotiated with Canoeing south Africa to enable the milestone edition of the race to take place, after the 2020 race had to be cancelled under the hard lockdown regulations.

Amongst the changes, the race now starts on a Thursday instead of its traditional Wednesday start, and the first overnight stop on the KWV opening stage is at Delsma Farm instead of Zonquasdrift, affording the race better facilities and amenities and making the stages more equal in length.

The race date had to be rolled out by a month as the nation went into its third wave hard lockdown, forcing elite athletes to tailor their training plans, while affording the more social Berg paddlers and extra month in which to train.

The race for the menís and womenís titles are both the strongest in many years, as the attraction of winning the plum 60th edition Berg titles and the generous prize pool has lured all of the major elite paddlers to Paarl for the race.

Eleven times champion Hank McGregor reshaped the menís race when he dropped his entry a few weeks ago. The nuggety 42 year old Euro Steel star is not only the raceís most decorated champion but also an eleven times marathon world champion, and after a frustrating year and a half during which times swathes of events have been cancelled under the ongoing lockdown, he is hungry to compete in one of his favourite races.

Between him and as twelfth Berg title lie 240 kilometres of river still full from the heavy winter rains, and a menís field loaded with former champions and serious pretenders to his throne.

East Londoner Andy Birkett will be hard to beat. The 2014 Berg winner is also a former world champion, and after being dramatically dumped out of the national marathon team at the nationals in Cape Town, he has set his sights on the 2021 Berg title with ominous determination.

Both will be pushed hard by 2019 Berg champion and current national marathon champion Hamish Lovemore. The Under 23 star is Hank McGregorís training partner at the MacSquad at Blue Lagoon in Durban, and it will be fascinating to see whether they form an alliance to control the front of the race.

Early on, the front bunch will also include class elite racers Jasper Mockť, former winners Robbie Herreveld and Jacques Theron and Graeme Solomon, who slipped in an eleventh hour entry this week, Paul Marais, Jeremy Maher and Wayne Jacobs.

The womenís race promises to be just a thrilling contest to follow, particularly significant as the race moves to the Womenís Day long weekend.

Triple Berg champion Bianca Beavitt will start holding all the cards, delighted that the Berg has returned to a solo format, but she will find herself under serious pressure from MyLife Dusi runner-up Jordan Peek, and the on-form Border star Nikki Birkett.

In what is already a milestone edition of the race, a number of significant new marks will be made on the race.

Giel van Deventer stands poised to become the first person to complete the tough ultra-marathon fifty times. He will be joined in the Legends batch by Jannie Malherbe starting his 48th Berg at 82 years of age.

Ralph Teulings will be starting is 37th consecutive Berg, and will be part of a small private ceremony at the start to honour Edgar Boehm who passed away in the last year, after having completed a record 45 consecutive Bergs.

Lisa Scott, when she reaches Velddrif on Sunday, will move clear of Jean Wilson and Helen Boehmís womenís record of twelve Berg finishes.

The race will live stream the first part of the opening stage and the closing part of the finish stage, with regular updates on their social media channels.

More information can be found at www.berg.org.za

Social media : #Berg2021 #60thBerg

Photo
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Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on white - JPeg  
Berg River Canoe Marathon logo - square on transparent background - PNG  
Eleven times champion Hank McGregor is hoping to add to that list when he takes on a stacked field at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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South Africa's form paddler of 2021 Hamish Lovemore will be hoping to add to his solitary Berg triumph at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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Bianca Beavitt holds the Western Cape hopes as she looks to show her prowess against a strong women's field at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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After a runner-up performance at the MyLife Dusi, Jordan Peek will step into the unknown as he hopes to win on debut at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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Ralph Teulings will be starting his 37th consecutive Berg this year at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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In a feat that is unrivalled, legend of the race Giel van Deventer will race his fiftieth Berg at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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When she reaches Velddrif on Sunday, Lisa Scott will become the most decorate women's finisher with twelve finishes at the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon from 5-8 August. John Hishin/
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